The innovation on the low dimensional nanomaterials brings the rapid growth of nano community. Developing the controllable production and commercial applications of nanomaterials for sustainable society is highly concerned. Herein, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with sp2 carbon bonding, excellent mechanical, electrical, thermal, as well as transport properties are selected as model nanomaterials to demonstrate the road of nanomaterials towards industry. The engineering principles of the mass production and recent progress in the area of CNT purification and dispersion are described, as well as its bulk application for nanocomposites and energy storage. The environmental, health, and safety considerations of CNTs, and recent progress in CNT commercialization are also included. With the effort from the CNT industry during the past 10 years, the price of multi-walled CNTs have decreased from 45 000 to 100 $ kg−1 and the productivity increased to several hundred tons per year for commercial applications in Li ion battery and nanocomposites. When the prices of CNTs decrease to 10 $ kg−1, their applications as composites and conductive fillers at a million ton scale can be anticipated, replacing conventional carbon black fillers. Compared with traditional bulk chemicals, the controllable synthesis and applicationsof CNTs on a million ton scale are still far from being achieved due to the challenges in production, purification, dispersion, and commercial application. The basic knowledge of growth mechanisms, efficient and controllable routes for CNT production, the environmental and safety issues, and the commercialization models are still inadequate. The gap between the basic scientific research and industrial development should be bridged by multidisciplinary research for the rapid growth of CNT nano-industry.